Leaving Church…To Be The Church

In the last two posts (here and here) on leaving church, I have discussed the problem behind many decisions to leave one church for another as well as when such decision is right.  So with this post I want to think about a different angle which is, as the title states, why we absolutely ought to leave our churches to be the church.

Why should we leave our churches to be the church?  Because for starters, we have totally confused the notion of church for far too long.  Most of us grew up being taught to speak of the church as a location rather than a people.  That has turned the church into some third-person entity that is located in a particular place and identified with a particular building.  This “temple” mentality to church has created a situation where many can “go to church” and then leave their church behind as they go back to their life.

This temple approach to church worked in a christendom culture where the life of a community was centered around a church.  Hence, the old traditional church in the center of town with its steeple making it the tallest building in town.  But those days have past.  The only way forward is for us to leave our church (assemblies) to be the church in our homes, our neighborhoods, our work spaces, our social spaces, etc…

When we read the Gospels and Acts, we get the language of discipleship, witnessing, and being sent.  We are sent into our communities as disciples of Jesus Christ who bear witness to Jesus alone.

What the book of Acts makes clear is that our mission is lived by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Not only is the power of the Holy Spirit promised (Acts 1:8) but it is the gift promised to all who repent and are baptized (Acts 2.38-39).  All this means that we leave our church to be the church by relying on Holy Spirit power.

This point cannot be stressed enough.  It is no secret that the United States is becoming more and more of a secular culture, following in the footsteps of her European ancestors.  This has meant greater tolerance for non-Christian beliefs and values, including the passage of legislation to legitimize a variety of practices that are both foreign to traditional American values as well as historical Christianity.

As Christians, we are not likely to agree with many of the decisions.  However, we cannot utilize the government as a vehicle for securing and preserving a Christian friendly culture.  To do so is to rely on political power rather than the power of the Holy Spirit that comes being the gospel people.  And why would we want rely on political power rather than Holy Spirit power?  What are we more concerned with, preserving a “Christian friendly” culture or bearing the fruit that makes disciples of Jesus?  Which power do we believe has the capability of making more communities of disciples, reliance on Holy Spirit power or reliance on political power?  These are questions we must answer because cannot rely on both.

Having received the gift of the Holy Spirt, we are called to live as witnesses among our neighbors and friends by the power of the Spirit.  If we are not sure what that looks like, read the rest of Acts.  So here’s to gathering on with our fellow Christians as the church and then leaving to be the church among the neighborhoods we live in…by the power of the Holy Spirit!

6 responses to “Leaving Church…To Be The Church

  1. today I taught sunday school at work; Ray didn’t know the story of Shadrack, Meschack and Abednego; I had drawn a series of pictures of the story and tookum in. He liked it and wants to see the series on Noah’s Flood. He also decided he wants to take up the name Abednego. The Nepali Hindu complained that his name deviates from the Hindu pattern of being after something holy, so he got the name “Shadrack” since the three Hebrew Children are venerated in the same timeframe as my Nepali friend’s birthday. Lord have mercy. I pray for the Nepali when he isn’t present with the Kerala Christians; though I am Orthodox, I have reasonable experience in ex tempore prayer, and though they are a Protestant variant of the Mar Thoma Church, they are locked in liturgical forms, so we pray for the Nepali, and the power of the Spirit could be felt going out. that is always encouraging; miracles follow the outflow of the power; remember Jesus felt power go from him when his garment was touched. I learned about responsiveness to the Spirit in charismatic meetings, but that was in the height of the charismatic movement and the Spirit is mostly doing something different; no longer broad and wide but digging deep to find water.

    • Too often, I only know of where the Holy Spirit was trying to work and lead from looking in the rear-view mirror. So one of my goals has been learning to be more attentive to the work and leading of the Holy Spirit. That means more time praying.

  2. “However, we cannot utilize the government as a vehicle for securing and preserving a Christian friendly culture. To do so is to rely on political power rather than the power of the Holy Spirit that comes being the gospel people.”

    Thank you for saying this! It is so right. Let’s worry less about what happens in legislature and much, much more about how each of us portrays Christ as we go about our days. If we’re doing the latter, we’ll attract people to the church. Every time we do the former, we drive people away.

  3. I left the church I began my walk with Jesus with. I became an elder in that church and yet I left for another church. The congregation wanted to return to the way they were……no eldership. I have served in more than one congregation and believe we cannot return to the original.

  4. If you follow God’s Plan of Salvation and are baptized as an adult, you have the gift of the Holy Spirit. Your body is the temple. You were baptized into Jesus. I have since found committed Christians following Christ. They are a happy bunch. Before I leave this earth, I want to baptize my granddaughter. Then I will feel the family is complete and we will all meet later before the throne. Don’t leave anyone behind. With one hand reach out to Jesus and with the other, bring a friend.

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